Monday, June 12, 2023

Khamenei: There is no harm in concluding an agreement with the West and not heading towards building a nuclear weapon, not because of our fear of enemies, but rather because of our faith

    Monday, June 12, 2023   No comments

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday it is possible to reach an agreement with the West over Tehran's nuclear activities if the country's nuclear infrastructure remains intact, at a time of disagreement between Iran and the United States over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the deal with six major powers hit an impasse in September, with both sides accusing each other of making unreasonable demands.

Khamenei's cautious approval comes days after both Tehran and Washington denied a report that they were close to an interim agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

"There is nothing wrong with the agreement (with the West), but the infrastructure of our nuclear activities should not be touched," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state media.

The 2015 agreement limited Iran's uranium enrichment activity and made it difficult for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement and re-imposed sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy, prompting Tehran to move gradually to not abide by the provisions of the agreement stipulated. This renewed US, European and Israeli fears that Iran might seek to obtain an atomic bomb.

Khamenei said, repeating his country's official position, that the Islamic Republic has never sought to build a nuclear bomb.

And he added, “Talking about Tehran’s nuclear weapons is a lie, and they (the West) know that. We don't want to build nuclear weapons because of our religious faith, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to stop it."

Khamenei, who has the supreme say in all state affairs including the nuclear program, added that Iran's Atomic Energy Organization should continue to work with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency "within a framework of guarantees".

However, Khamenei called on the Iranian authorities "not to bow to the exaggerated and wrong demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency," adding that a law passed by the Iranian parliament in 2020 must be respected.

Under the law, Tehran suspends IAEA inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and ramps up uranium enrichment if sanctions are not lifted.

At the end of May, the UN body reported “progress” in cooperation with Iran, while noting that the Islamic Republic had significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months.

In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency decided to close the file on the presence of nuclear materials in one of the three undeclared sites, after this led to strained relations between the two parties for a long time.

On Sunday, Khamenei urged those responsible for the nuclear program to "not succumb to pressure... baseless allegations," without providing further details.

He said, "There is no problem in signing an agreement with the agency, but the infrastructure of the Iranian nuclear industry should not be harmed."

These statements come at a time when press reports reported indirect contacts between Iran and the United States to resume negotiations on the Iranian nuclear agreement that was concluded in 2015, and the United States withdrew from it during the era of former President Donald Trump in 2018.

This agreement was aimed at restricting Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

And Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated that President Joe Biden's administration will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, which Iran denies seeking.

In the context, Khamenei said, “We do not want to reach nuclear weapons on the basis of our Islamic principles. Otherwise, they would not have been able to prevent us from obtaining this weapon, just as they have not been able to stop our nuclear developments so far.

"This is a good law... it must be respected and not violated when giving access to (the International Atomic Energy Agency) sites and information," Khamenei said.

Last month, the IAEA reported limited progress on issues at issue with Iran, including the reinstallation of some monitoring equipment originally installed under the 2015 deal and ordered removed by Tehran last year.


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